Conventional cattle operations -- predominantly organized into confined feedlots -- unfortunately cut the wrong corners in order to save time and money. Cows are fed diets that lead to a rapid weight gain that comes at the expense of animal health and the nutritive and sanitary quality of the meat. The concentrated waste effluent of feedlots and soil loss from grain production significantly degrade environmental quality. Animals are placed in cramped, stressful environs and rarely, if ever, breathe the open air. While this approach may efficiently mass-produce beef, it is not our way at Mount Lehman Farm. We know that a pasture-based, grass-only diet is a sensible approach to raising beef, and has benefits for the consumer, for the animals, and for the environment. What follows is a partial explanation of the reasons to choose grass-only over grain-fed, conventional beef:
...is lean, containing half the fat of its grain-fed counterpart.
...has elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids, compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
...supplies 4 times more vitamin A and E.
...is a source of linoleic acid, an anti-cancer agent.
Quality and sanitation:
Grain-fed cattle stomachs can have an E. coli population up to 300 times greater than that of grass-fed beef. Due to the high level of stomach acids (a byproduct of a grain-based diet), the E. coli strains are hardier and more likely to cause illness in consumers.
Mad Cow Disease was spread by feeding cattle with the brain and spinal tissue of infected cows. By eating only pastureland and hay, cows are at a negligible risk of contracting MCD.
Because our cows are not treated with growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics and our fields are not sprayed with pesticides, we have minimized the presence of unwanted and potentially harmful chemicals in our meat.
Pastureland, with its year-round coverage of fields, helps to retain and preserve high-quality soil in British Columbia. The corn and soybean production required to grain-fed operations can leave the soil bare for months, leading to erosion and pollution of waterways. When cattle graze on open pastures, their manure naturally fertilizes the fields, reducing or eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers. Manure from feedlots is more likely to collect and run off into nearby streams and rivers.
Local, individual farms make it easier for you to learn about the food you eat. Buying local foods reduces energy and transportation costs, decreasing the ecological footprint of your diet.
Supporting local farms keeps money in the local economy and maintains the diversity of your community.